Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:18b-21 ESV)
When I was in the 5th grade my class used to take field trips to the local university swimming pool. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that it had a high dive. By high dive I’m not talking about the big diving board at your neighborhood pool, I’m talking about an Olympic size diving platform!
I was thrilled… then I was terrified. I didn’t get scared until I climbed all the way up to the top and stood out looking over the edge. Somehow the pool got a lot smaller. It wasn’t until one of the older students walked out to the edge with me, told me what to expect, and jumped with me that I ever really experienced my first jump off a diving platform… Then I was hooked.
For some people facing death can be terrifying. (I’m sure it’s a lot more scary than a kid looking down at a pool for the first time.) Unlike my dive platform experience… There is no one who has been there before to walk you through it… Or is there?
Paul is in chains and one of the very real outcomes of his situation is death. Yet somehow he finds a way to rejoice. He rejoices because he knows that he doesn’t walk through this dark valley alone. The church at Philippi is praying for him and of course he has the spirit of Jesus. Paul can’t help but know that Jesus has never left him. He remembers that first day when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Jesus said, “Saul why do you persecute me?” He learned very quickly that Jesus is very much present with his people. Now that Paul belongs to Jesus, Jesus is present with him and Jesus will see him through this to the end.
This gives Paul hope and courage. He knows that God is not far away but He is right there with him. He can be bold because He’s not alone. He can be brave because Jesus has faced worse and will be with Paul no matter what happens. Paul doesn’t know what will happen, but God does and he can rest in that.
Paul has been on both sides of the coin. It’s ironic that we first hear about him when he is going around Jerusalem looking to throw Christian men and women into prison and now we catch a glimpse of him writing from prison accused of the very same crimes he accused those early believers. The persecutor has become the persecuted.
Pray that you will not be ashamed of Jesus today, and that you will have courage and confidence to tell others about him!
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